Friday, July 31, 2020

Tongue-Twisters We Tried As Kids (And I Still Can't Say Them!)

Tongue-twisters were definitely fun during school. I even remember a couple of games using tongue-twisters we played in our English class as a part of the learning. I was always so very bad at them, and till today I can't get a single one of them fully right! The other day, my friend and I were recollecting some of the famous and fun ones, and laughing about how we could never really do them. While finding out the full versions of those tongue-twisters, we also realized how much we changed it to make it do-able! 

Some tongue twisters made a proper story, while others were short phrases. And, some of these short phrases were difficult in themselves to pronounce, while the others became more and more confusing and difficult as they were to be repeated over and again. 

Some of the most insanely difficult ones were regarded to be: 
"The seething sea ceaseth and thus the seething sea sufficeth us"  
"Pad kid poured curd pulled cod". 
But, I could never even get the 'She sells' one right even once!
She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I'm sure she sells sea-shore shells.
My friend and I remembered several most-distorted versions the classic Betty Botter and Peter Piper tongue-twisters. The bit of better butter in the batter always slid way out of control and beyond redemption, and so did Peter Piper's peck of pickled peppers!

It has always been a thing to show off if you can have the clean pronunciation, and display the adept mastery over the way of words and phonemes, by conquering these tongue-twisters. And, it always commands a respect and excitement when people can actually say them! Those who could say it were clearly the heroes when it came to this forte, and I always was awed, the kind of awe where you stare at them with an open mouth and dreamy eyes, at how they could get it all clean and right. It was supreme talent, in my eyes.

Can you get tongue-twisters right? Which is your favourite one? Do you know any in your own regional languages? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Steamed Chocolate Cake

I tried my hand at steamed chocolate cake today, and it came out looking really good! This steamed cake is essentially just bourbons and milk, and I have topped it and created a dressing according to my own choice and preferences. Here's the simple recipe! The amounts mentioned here give a dessert for four people. 

What you need: Two twenty-rupees Bourbon packets, milk at room temperature,  almonds, any biscuit of your choice.

How to make:

1. Take the bourbons, and separate the cream from the biscuit part for all the biscuits.

2. Grind the biscuits to a fine powder.

3. Slowly, add milk to the Bourbon powder, and whisk it continuously till it reaches the consistency of a flowing batter. 

4. Take the cooker, or any thick bottomed vessel, and add some water in the base of the vessel. Keep a stand, or a cup inside the vessel on top of the water. Turn on your gas, and pre heat the vessel for a couple of minutes till it starts steaming. 

5. Take an aluminium tray or a cake tin, and grease the insides of the tray with cooking oil. Make sure to grease it generously so that there is no trouble later while removing the cake. Now, add half the quantity of the cake batter into the greased tray. Tap the tray firmly to spread the batter into an even thickness.

6. Keep the tray on top of the cup inside the steaming vessel. Cover the top of the steaming vessel with a cloth, and then put a lid over it. Make sure that the cloth is not flowing down to the gas as it can catch fire. The purpose of the cloth is to absorb the water while steaming, so that the cake doesn't come out soggy. Steam it for around 5-10 minutes. 

7. Meanwhile, take a few almonds and crush them. You can also take a biscuit of your choice and crumble it. I used a Gooday choco chip cookie. This step is optional, and only for additional taste. 

8. Take a little part of the bourbon cream and smash them together. When they are smashed up, add a few drops of milk and whisk them fast to get a creamy chocolate syrup-like texture. Keep it aside. 

9.  After 5-10 minutes of steaming, open the lid and check. When it has been steamed, arrange the rest of the cream, that wasn't used to make the syrup-like liquid, on top of the steamed batter. You can also sprinkle part of the almond-cookie crushed mixture along with the cream. 

10.  Pour the rest half of the cake batter on top of this cream arrangement and spread it equally. Sprinkle some more almond-cookie crushed mixture on top of this final layer of batter. Follow step 6 and steam again for 10-15 minutes. You can open and check after steaming it for 15 minutes. 

11.  Insert a toothpick, or the edge of your knife, to check if it has steamed completely. The final cake will not stick to the toothpick when inserted. This means, that the cake is done. Let it cool down. 

12. After the cake completely cools down, take it out carefully and transfer it to a plate. Add the syrup-like chocolate sauce that you made using the bourbon cream and spread it out nicely on top of the cake. Sprinkle all the rest of the crushed almonds and cookies. I had a KitKat at home, so I just put it on top for a better look and tastier cake! Give it a couple of minutes for it all to set. 

The cake is ready!

It was tasty, and very, very chocolaty. The top dressing was sweet, and the bottom steamed cake made of biscuits balanced the sweetness. The cream that we put in between the two batter layers made sure there's a little gooey cream between the steamed layers! The almonds and the crushed cookies add very nicely to both the aesthetics and the taste! 

One line of warning: this is a steamed cake, not a baked one. So, it will not be fluffy and spongy, don't expect what we usually have in mind as a 'cake'. What it really feels like is a sweet, chocolaty dessert. 

It came out well! Do check it out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Perfect World Of Fallacies

Irrespective of whether you are a math student or not, at some point you'd have encountered a mathematical fallacy in the name of a trick puzzle or a joke. They are intriguing, fun, and absolutely absurd. For those who aren't very familiar with how the word fallacy is used in the context of mathematics, here's a small introduction. 

Fallacy technically reflects its meaning in English: "a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound arguments". In mathematical terms, you could consider it as an invalid proof, where there is a fundamental error in the very mathematical concept, although it may seem fine on the surface of the process of the proof. The beauty of mathematical fallacies are that they are absolutely absurd, and yet to actually find out where things go wrong, one needs to know the subject in and out. 

In some simple, basic mathematical fallacies like proving 1=2 or 0/0=2(using algebra), spotting the goof up might be pretty simple, thanks to our elementary school mathematics. But, the fallacy in the proof of 1=2 using complex numbers might be slightly more subtle and difficult to spot unless you know the subject. Would you like to take a look of these two and have some fun? Try them here!

During school, finding the fallacy in the problem was a favourite thing for some of my friends, and I have had a hilarious time trying along with them! Fallacies are some of the hardest challenges, and they test the core fundamental knowledge of mathematics. Fallacies, especially in geometry, are so mindbogglingly ridiculous and yet so hard to figure out where exactly it goes wrong. 

I believe that concepts such as finding fallacies in mathematical problems not only make math so much more fun, but also teaches us the real basics, or the sine qua non properties of this subject. If you're interested, do check it out. I can assure you that it's a ton of fun!

We are all good at finding faults (with literally every single thing and every single person)! Why not try your hand at this? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What Is It About The Rains And Bajjis?

What is it about the rains that makes us crave for those bajjis and pakodas? Even half an hour into a constant, incessant pitter-patter, our thoughts abandon all productive activities and seek comfort in the dream of bajjis, fried crisp and eaten when it's still hot from the frying pan. As the temperature drops thanks to the soothing rains, our bodies crave for the hot and spicy fried fritters. There is an undeniable connect, to all Indians in their own ways, when it comes to a rainy day and bajjis/pakodas. In truth, the thought of bajjis is hardly comforting. It only paves way for even the laziest human alive to get to the kitchen and fulfill the cravings on the rainy day. 

I happen to be a person who'd most likely fantasize about chocolates than bajjis. That is only mostly. However, with the mellow sound of the constant rain today, my mind wandered to the comforting thought of hot, crisp bajjis without the slightest trace of shame while struggling with the not-at-all-perfect bicycle crunches during my workout session. 

What is it about the rains? Why does it make us crave for these crisp fritters? What is it about the rains that makes us head to the kitchen, light the stove, and prepare for the fritters, a source of instant gratification? Why do the crispy bajjis give us so much comfort and happiness as the rain pours happily outside? 

Is it one of those things that no one knows how it started, and yet it continued for years together naturally influencing us in its ways? Do we get these bajji/pakoda thoughts because that is what we have grown up seeing? What makes these bajjis so gratifying on a rainy day? 

If you are expecting answers, I don't have them. All I have is a bemused thought, and a happy smile after snacking on these comfort fritters. The satisfaction it brings on the seemingly dull, rainy day is something that we all know. But, what do you think: what is it about these rains and bajjis?

Monday, July 27, 2020

*Meter Cost Only*

The old man stopped a passing auto rickshaw. The auto rickshaw came to a halt ten paces in front of him and vroomed. He walked towards it. The auto driver looked at him expressionless.

“Bunny Colony,” he said.
“Get in!” said the auto rickshaw man, and turned away from the old man.
“Put on the meter, please!” said the old man, determined to pay only what was worth the ride.

The auto rickshaw driver stared at the old man as if he had just said something which was forbidden to say, vroomed his vehicle, and took off. The old man looked at the speeding auto rickshaw skeptically, and started walking again. He stopped another speeding auto rickshaw. This one stopped twenty paces before him. The old man walked up to the vehicle, again.

“Bunny Colony,” the old man said.

The auto rickshaw man signalled the old man to get inside, and looked away.

“Put on the meter, please!” said the old man, glancing at the auto rickshaw man hopefully.

This auto rickshaw driver looked at him as if he must be crazy to make such a statement, snickered, and zoomed off. The old man looked at his watch. He still had lots of time. So, he walked on. Another speeding auto rickshaw stopped on its own. 

“Where to?” called the auto rickshaw driver.
“Bunny Colony,” said the old man.
“Get in!” said the driver.
“Put on the meter, please!” said the old man, with the same polite tone he had used with the other two men.
“Meter? What did you say, sir? Meter!” laughed the driver. “No meter, sir. Two fifty rupees…”
“Two fifty? No…” said the old man. “Put the meter on, or go off!”

The auto rickshaw man stared at the old man for sometime, and then gestured to the old man to get in again.

“Okay, okay. Give me two hundred…” said the driver, making an expression signifying great sacrifice.
“No, no, no… I am not giving you anything but the cost on the meter,” said the old man simply. Now, he turned away as if uninterested. He started walking again.

The auto vroomed from it’s place for sometime, expecting the old man to give up and turn back to it, but when it seemed like that wasn't going to happen, it sped away.

The old man turned the street corner after stopping a moment to wipe the pearls of sweat off his forehead. He crossed the street to reach the main road where many auto rickshaws stopped by. None of them would agree for the meter cost. Finally, an auto stopped again.

“Yes, sir?” asked the driver.
“Bunny Colony,” the old man said, for the umpteenth time, very patiently.

This auto rickshaw man, just like all the rest, signalled the old man to get in.

“Put on the meter, please!” said the old man, still polite.

The man turned on the meter promptly, and then said, “Give me thirty rupees on top of the meter charges!”

“Sorry, only meter charges. Nothing more…” said the old man.
“Get in sir! Paying an extra twenty rupees is better than getting a heat stroke!” said the man, sarcastically.
“Thank you. I will take care,” said the old man, plainly, and turned away.

The bus stop was there. He could go there. So, the old man went there, and waited for a bus to turn up.

And, then again, an auto rickshaw stopped by.

“Bunny Colony,” said the old man.

“Get in!” said the auto rickshaw man, and turned away from the old man.

“Put on the meter, please!” said the old man. And the auto zoomed off. Another auto stopped by. He tried ignoring the auto rickshaw. He didn’t want to ask them anymore. He was pretty tired.

“Where to, sir?” asked a young driver.
“Will you put on the meter?” asked the old man, directly.

The boy pointed proudly at the “METER COST ONLY” sticker which was pasted in front of the auto rickshaw. The old man looked at it, and allowed himself a smile.

“Bunny Colony,” said the old man.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Snippets From Pygmalion

Pygmalion is an all-time favorite book, and so is its author. I love Shaw's humour, and I happened to have some snippets and quotes from the book that I had written down when I read it.

Eliza, a cockney flower girl, goes to Prof. Higgins to learn phonetics. I became a fan of Shaw, his plays, and I absolutely love this one.I felt happy rediscovering that document, and hence I present to you my collection!

“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated.”

“The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no thirdclass carriages, and one soul is as good as another.”

"Simply phonetics. The science of speech. That's my profession; also my hobby. Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby! You can spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets."

"What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day. I shall make a duchess of this draggletailed guttersnipe."

Here's a excerpt of a conversation that I had put up in my review:
WHISKERS : Maestro, Maestro (he embraces Higgins and kisses him on both cheeks). You remember me?
HIGGINS: No I don’t. Who the devil are you?
WHISKERS: I am your pupil: your first pupil, your best and greatest pupil. I am little Nepommuck, the marvellous boy. I have made your name famous throughout Europe. You teach me phonetic. You cannot forget ME.
HIGGINS: Why don’t you shave?
NEPOMMUCK: I have not your imposing appearance, your chin, your brow. Nobody notices me when I shave. Now I am famous: they call me Hairy Faced Dick.
HIGGINS: And what are you doing here among all the swells?
NEOPOMMUCK: I am interpreter. I speak 32 languages. I am indispensable at these international parties. You are great cockney specialist: you place a man anywhere in London the moment he opens his mouth. I place any man in Europe.
(a footman hurries down the grand staircase and comes to Nepommuck).
FOOTMAN: You are wanted upstairs. Her excellency cannot understand the Greek gentleman.
NEPOMMUCK: Thank you, yes, immediately.
(the footman goes and is lost in the crowd)
NEPOMMUCK: (to Higgins) This Greek diplomatist pretends he cannot speak nor understand English. He cannot deceive me. He is the son of a Clerkenwell watchmaker. He speaks English so villainously that he dare not utter a word of it without betraying his origin. I help him to pretend; but I make him pay through the nose. I make them all pay. Ha Ha! (he hurries upstairs).
Pygmalion is a book that talks about a wide range of things from language and art of phonetics to behaviour and how women ought to be treated, all in the style of classic Shaw humour. It is a brilliant play that is a must-read! 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Elizabeth Gilbert: in The Universe in Verse

Today, I was going through a few poetry recitals of the 2020 Universe in Verse. One of the recitals that I listened to was by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of several books including Eat, Pray, Love (that was also made into a popular film later starring Julia Roberts), and she read Ursa Major by James Kirkup. I really enjoyed her recital of this poem. 

We all wonder at the cosmic miracles, and the endless awe it brings us. Not long ago I felt myself reminiscing on these wondrous diamonds in the sky. Fresh from such nostalgic memories, listening to Ursa Major as Kirkup explores it's beauty and significance through his bewitching poem, I wanted to share this lovely discovery with you all. Here's the poem for your reading:
Slung between the homely poplars at the end
of the familiar avenue, the Great
Bear in its lighted hammock swings,
like a neglected gate that neither bars admission nor invites,
hangs on the sagging pole its seven-pointed shape.

Drawn with the precision of an unknown problem
solved n the topmost classroom of the empty sky,
it demonstrates upon the inky blackboard of the night’s
immeasurable finity the focal point of light.
For though the pointers seem to indicate the pole,
each star looks through us into outer space
from where the sun that burns behind and past us
animates immediately each barren, crystal face
with ravaged brilliance, that our eyes
must lean out into time to catch, and die in seeing.
Since an embed was available for the same on Brainpickings, you can listen to Elizabeth Gilbert's lovely reading here:

If you want to read more about this, do check out the post on this on Brainpickings. It's a beautiful blog, and one that will stay my favourite, do subscribe to it if you are interested across topics like science, art, literature, poetry, philosophy, and would like to discover treasures- both contemporary and old ones. Happy reading!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Rules and Standards

Any point in any situation can be looked at from two different perspectives- one, rules, and two, standards. What is a rule? What is a standard? And, what is the difference?

Rule is any stringent condition on an aspect, while a standard is a highly loose-ended subjective treatment of the matter. Standards are fuzzier than rules. For example, to understand what these terms are and what their difference is, in a much easier way, consider that you need to sell something, and you have to set a price. To regulate the price at which you sell, and the price at which the customer buys, there can be two ways according to the above approaches. 

1. Sell it for Rs. 100. This is what a rule is. There is no power to work around in a rule, and it is very rigid. Such a concrete rule is not feasible in every situation.
2. Sell it at a reasonable price. This is a standard. In contrast to the rule above, the standard describes the price to be reasonable, and that clearly has a reasonably infinite interpretations to it. A standard also cannot be feasible in every situation. 

However, rules and standards in themselves might be polar opposites, but in real life, what we see in the world is a rule-standard continuum, with an optimum middle. Consider this: if instead of selling it for a rigid Rs. 100, or letting every boundary loose by terming it reasonable, what if you hit the middle ground and set the price as "market price of the day". This has both shades of rigidity and fluidity to it, thus making it more friendly for both the sellers and the customers. 

The above was just an example to understand the rule-standard continuum. This spectra of balancing rigidity and fluidity is extremely useful and important for all that we do in life, especially where administration is required. In my opinion, many issues arise due to a lack of balance of these interests on the rule-standard continuum, when one or the other party tries to tip the scale to its advantage.

Maybe, seeking this balance is what we should all look at!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Confusing Case Of Acronyms

Let's start here: I cannot understand the texting slang that acronyms make a major part of. The maximum I use is lol, lol. The world is so fast paced, and lazy if I may add, that literally everything has an acronym on text. People use it so casually, and yet I never know what it means. How is that? How do other people keep up with the unpredictable rate at which these acronyms grow? A regular text in today's world seems to be:
wym lol hahaha ngl idk even if it exists iml, iykwim, k c u bbye 
And, when I do receive such texts once in a while, my mind goes-what the hell was that? My friends always text me properly because writing acronyms to me means more work for them, because my replies are going to be a simple question mark for every word/phrase they shrunk, and they will have to explain the whole thing again. As well write it all the first time- that's what they think (I think)!

Though becomes tho, please becomes pls, thanks becomes tnq/tq/tnx/tkhs/tks/(I-have-no-idea-what-else), but a simple hi goes hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. Eh, well. Every line has a lol, or a bro, or both. For a long time I was so confused when I looked at Qt, and racked my brains until one day it dawned on me that it's cutie! I could particularly never understand when people wrote a four letter word in three words, because that's the short form (lol). I couldn't believe people use acronyms like NNTR which apparently means "no need to reply", and  DGMW which meant "don't get me wrong". Sigh, I have a long way to go.

I find it much easier to both type and read if so many acronyms don't replace the entire sentence structure. The texts are just stunted today- no capitals, no punctuation, very few actual, full words, and acronyms thrown around generously, not to mention the weird string of emojis. There is nothing wrong at all. But, I'd feel grateful if people assumed less that everybody knows them. Or wait, does everyone except me actually know?

How do you keep up with the confusing case of acronyms? 

*Beep sound of a message on your phones*
SANDHYA: lmk in the cmts :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Loving Minimalism- In Design and Productivity

Minimalism. Minimalism is basically having or owning as few things as possible, or being minimalist. It can also mean having profound experiences with the least amount of things you need. In theory, minimalism is something that I really am fond of- and I believe in it completely when it comes to the design of a living space. 

Living in a hostel room, I have as few things as possible and only those I need. Many friends who have been to my room so many times over the past two years have always looked at how simple the room is, and yet it feels so comfortable and at home. White walls, a few nails to hang keys and other stuff, a shelf, a cot and a table. That's all the room needs. To me, keeping the living space clean and neat is more important that decorating it with tons of stuff.

It is possible to keep your living space clean anyway, irrespective of whether you are someone who loves hoarding the room and decorating it, or someone like me who likes to have only and only what I really need in my room. But, it is undeniable that it is easier to maintain the room clean for the latter. 

The didi  in my hostel who comes to help clean the room always has a thankful word for me that there aren't many things to really clean in my room. I have so few things in my room that I can fit every single object in my room (except the cot and the table) into my shelf and still have some space left in it! This makes organizing, cleaning, maintaining things a breeze!

I think this whole idea of me loving minimalism is why I took to Chromebooks very easily. I have been using a Chromebook for the last six years, and I don't think I'd buy any other laptop. A vast majority of us literally use just the browser on a laptop, and maybe store some files on the local storage. That is it! Why do we need a laptop with a ton of things that we would never get to know and use? I heard in an interview talking about Chromebooks, where Mr. Pichai explained how Chromebooks were launched by Google to actually give only what the users need and use. I think that's brilliant, and I love it. I have been using it smoothly for the last 6 years, which proves that anything more isn't really needed. 

A minimalist approach largely sorts out and simplifies things wherever you apply it. That is why I am a huge fan of this approach. Like we know it, I always reiterate the KISS principle in my mind- keep it simple, stupid!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Daddy-Long-Legs

Title: Daddy-Long-Legs
Author: Jean Webster

Jerusha, an orphaned girl whose first name was picked from a grave and surname from a phone book by the orphanage matron she grew up with, gets an unexpected and intersting benefactor who offers to pay her through college and give her a generous pocket money, on one condition. The benefactor wants her to write him letters, one every month, to which he will never reply. Jerusha, who liked to be addressed as Judy, is not informed of his true identity, and instead she is instructed to address him as Mr. John Smith. But as Judy catches a silhouette of her benefactor, she just notices he is a very tall man, and names him Daddy-long-legs fondly. 

Judy writes her letters faithfully, describing and illustrating her letters in a wonderfully child-like zeal, and talking about her life in college- educational, social, and personal growths in great respect and detail. She grows fond of writing her letters, and the revelation of the identity of her benefactor is the sweet surprise for all of us that the book has in the end. 

I loved this book. It is one of the most pleasant and absolutely lovable books that I have read. We grow with Judy's experiences and our expectations rise as we read her articulate letters with illustrations. I really like epistolary narratives as they feel intimate and genuine, as they are written in a tone of confidence and faith. And, Daddy-Long-Legs is a simple, intimate tale through Judy's letters to her benefactor.

Jean Webster herself has made the illustrations for this book, and it is a lovely addition to the letters. They add a whole new dimension and play a significant role in how we perceive Judy as readers. This is a timeless, evergreen classic, and a very heartwarming one.

I loved it, and so will you!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Diamonds In The Sky

10 years ago. We were nearing the end of Class V.  Our school always had the practice of calling us to school for a final ten days after our exams, and letting us enjoy the whole day, every day with our class friends. We used to watch movies in the class monitor, or sometimes play games. My friends and I played one game repeatedly- a mission to space! 

The moment we were allowed to play, we'd go to the back end of the classroom, upturn three chairs and use it's legs as controllers of the space mission. We, out of which two of us believed we were Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, played tirelessly and conquered space in our imaginative heads. While most of us just played a game, one of my friends seriously did love physics and the big, wide world of space science. 

Becoming an astronaut was such a common fancy for so many of us. The Universe, and it's stars and planets rightfully demanded our attention, but as we grew up we started forgetting to look up once in a while. Every time we forget to be humble, maybe we should look up, as realization of the speck that we are in the cosmos, even with what we can see and perceive!

I have always been interested in learning to spot constellations in the sky. When I went to college, I learnt how to spot the saucepan shape of Orion in the sky, after a couple of times when a friend who knew taught me how to spot it. It feels happy and nice to be able to see the sky and find the formation, especially considering how polluted the skies are today!

I may be a stargazer in the sense of being absentminded, but I am not really a stargazer in any other sense. The Little Prince beautifully captures the natural awe and inquisitveness that every child has about he Universe. And, it also captures how we lose it as we grow up. Staring at the sky, laying back, and getting lost in a maze of interesting thoughts, is a comfort that we may not have all the time. We better make the best of it when we can!

I wonder why. I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder!
- Richard P. Feynman

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Letter Writing In School

Do you all remember middle school and high school English? We were made to write a bunch of different letters, notices, messages, emails, and make posters, take notes, all under the broad head of ‘writing skills’? I don’t know about the rest of you, but letter writing was my favourite. 

Every year, every teacher told me that my letter was different, smart, innovative, and nice. However, what they didn’t know was the crux of what they found interesting in the letter was literally the same every year! Totally unlike a creative writer, Sandhya exercised her creativity in letter writing just once or twice in her whole school life. One idea was just improvised, recycled, and circulated in exam papers across my progressive years in high school. And since each time the correction was done by a different teacher, they always found the idea new and interesting. 

My best friend from school laughed at it every single time, and so did I. Once I was praised so much in front of the class, and the teacher asked me to read it aloud to the entire class because she found it very interesting. When I finished reading and came back to my seat, my friend nudged me and whispered in my ear: “Pray the next teacher won’t ask you to read next year.”

Though I flexed my creativity in other forms of writing skills such as story writing and posters, I stuck to this predetermined format that I had for letter writing. It was the exact same peripheral content every letter, with just the core issue changing according to the question asked. I followed the exact same strategy for my letter writing exercises in Tamizh also. As Calvin would put it, I did manipulate the system to nail the letter writing part of the question paper. 

Till very recently, I have tried to fix what I wanted to write in a format that has already worked before, just customizing it according to the person I am sending it to. Somehow, this usually works for letters and emails. But, off late, I have learnt to write an email decently without referring to a format. I guess it comes with practice. School has some of my most treasured memories, both big and small ones, that will stay with me forever. 

If you have any fun memories of writing letters, do share them in the comments below!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Next

Title: Next
Author: Michael Crichton

Frank Burnet survives an aggressive form of leukemia after four years of what was called an 'intensive treatment'. However, he learns that the 'treatments' were actually a pretext for extensively studying his miraculous genes which formed the genetic basis for his unbelievably quick recovery from the disease. As he learns that the rights over his cells have been sold to BioGen, a biotechnology startup, there follows a string of suits to claim the rights. Meanwhile, Jack Watson, a relentless venture capitalist, schemes to steal BioGen's cultures of Frank's cells. Situations get out of hand, and Frank and his family is forced on a cross-country spree as they are hunted by different parties for their miraculous genes. 

This makes the crux of the story, although there are many other sidelined plots that run parallel to it. The build up of the plot line and the narrative is very engaging, and is guaranteed to keep you hooked to the story. 

Crichton spirals you into a mind-blowing world of genetic makeup, it's potential, it's applications, and it's undeniable detriments- both legal and ethical. As he weaves a thrilling story, Crichton brings the perfect blend of the legal, medical, analytical aspects of the world of genes through a mix of fact and fiction. Next is a closely woven story with many parallel chunks of plots and sub-plots, and some of the subplots fail to tie up neatly in the end. However, the book feels like a whole load of interesting bio-genetic information on current research presented in the entertaining form of fiction. 

Genetic manipulations can change the way the world runs, and that era has already begun. I had Biotechnology and Genetics as brief subjects during my first and second year in the University. Thanks to my extremely enthusiastic professor for these subjects, there was a lot of discussion and interest in the medical, ethical and legal aspects of genetic study and genetic advancement, and I used to thoroughly enjoy those classes. I could relate to a lot of the discussions we had in our class while reading this book. 

I think there is probably no better way to introduce a concept, especially to someone who isn't familiar with it, than through fiction. I think Next uses the wide array of research that is ongoing in today's Genetics to fictitiously show the future. And, at the breakneck speed at which the world sees advancement today, that future is probably not far off!

It's a very interesting read, though the sub-plots are way too many and sometimes the book takes you around for a spin. It's fast paced, and I enjoyed it!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Benefits to Risks Ratio

The one phrase that I have heard my dad use way too many times during discussions across topics is the concept of 'benefits to risks ratio'. This is essentially a ratio of a quantifiable number of risks to the quantifiable number of benefits on performing an action, or sometimes inaction. This is a concept that is widely seen especially in medical contexts, and clinical trials, but it's application is across every decision we make. Why is this so important?

Practically, it is impossible to do any activity with 0 risks, or even 0 benefits. The risk or the benefit can be temporary, permanent, and can vary in a zillion degrees of severity. Not only is there a difference in severity, the same risk or benefit will be of different impacts to different people, as it is highly individual-dependent. So, in real life, almost every other decision that we take in a given situation would match with what is described above. And, that is why it becomes important to carry this concept of benefits to risks ratio with us all the time. 

The ratio is not golden. It differs from person to person. Every person has a quality or capacity for absorbing risks, and a quantified ratio can immediately help us identify whether we can give it a shot or not. There is no single yes or no to any decision that we take, and therefore it becomes imperative that we conclude after a logical analysis of the benefits we expect to have, and also the losses we need to incur to get those benefits. There may be several risks and benefits that we will not even be aware of, so it is better to at least take a rational approach with what we do know, which will largely avoid disappointment at a later stage. Before doing anything, it is important for us to pause and think. And, there couldn’t be a better way to do it rather than look at the benefits and the risks. 

It is not to be misunderstood that if the risks are more than benefits, then you must not place your bet on it. That’s not what this is for. The benefits to risks that you analyse is to make an informed decision, but the decision and your gut feeling is all yours. For example, when a surgery has to be done, there is always an analysis of what are the benefits and what are the risks. It's not about the number of risks, or number of benefits, but it may vary and depend on a whole set of factors like the significance of each benefit or risk for that patient, the age of the patient, and so many more things. So, a surgery may be performed even with high risks if the benefit is significant enough for the patient, or if it is the choice of the patient.

Since this is a factor that my dad keeps using to analyse, somewhere I also caught on it to think for a moment from this angle about any choice I make. What do I gain? And, what do I lose? For some small activities, our brain automatically does this and makes a choice. However, some activities may be slightly more complex that we need to consciously think in this perspective. Life is full of events where the probability is almost never 1 or 0, it’s always in between!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Fun Books Related To Law (Both Fiction and Non-Fiction)

I read books of a wide variety, and I often like to read books especially on things I don't know much about, or something that I am not connected to directly. I enjoy books on horse racing, or running, or Science, with the same zeal I feel for legal thrillers. I strongly believe that reading widely does wonders to overall perspective. That said, it is true that we always enjoy a book in our niche, be it fiction or non-fiction, as we can enjoy the book in it's entirety with all the inside jokes. Basically, these are ones that strike a familiar chord in us. There are so many wonderful books in this category. But, here are some of my favourites, books that I really enjoyed reading, that incorporate law/legal aspects to it (the list has both fiction and non-fiction).


You got to love Perry and his unbelievably entertaining courtroom drama, where he uses his well-known, skillful courtroom gimmicks to wrap up a case successfully. The characters are charming, and the stories are small in length. Though the plots are usually made of a very simple legal concept, Gardner's narrative is so compelling that it is unputdownable. You will grow to love the characters and the narrative style. If you are someone who already loves Perry Mason, look for that one book you haven't laid your hands on yet! Get reading!


I was presented this book by a relative when I was going to join law school. I read the book before I joined, and it made absolute sense to me as a person who did not really know anything about the Indian law at that time, and I was fascinated. After two semesters of studying Constitutional Law, I picked up this book again and read through the cases, which by now I had a strong familiarity to, and I truly appreciated the beauty of the book for the purpose it serves. I understood what Zia Mody, in the book, meant by saying that the idea of writing a book of this nature was "to seek to bridge the gap between life and law". 


The book is all about respecting people because they are people and not on the basis of colour. It talks about overcoming the stereotypes and fighting the right battle. I think it is an important perspective that anyone needs to have, especially lawyers. We, as a legal community, need to fight the right battles, and also fight battles the  right way. This is one of my all-time favourite novels. I absolutely love it.  


Leila Seth, in her autobiography On Balance: An Autobiography, starts with the story of how she took up legal studies because of the fact that it could be conveniently combined with taking care of her son and husband. Throughout, as she describes the events that transpire through her relationship with the law and the legal community, the spirit of the book focuses on taking India forward in its judicial journey. It is a beautiful read!

5. One L

Note to law students: Pick up this amazing book of experience by a "1L" in the first year of HLS (Harvard Law School), and every line would be something that you would relate to at a very personal level. There wasn't a single dull moment as I went on a surprisingly funny and relatable ride of reliving through the anguish, nervousness, excitement and the free-falling fear of a first year at law school. It is a wonderful, honest book, and Turow has absolutely and aptly captured the experiences of every law student.


It is a great book, and the best part is the format in which it takes you through the outlines of advocacy. The book recommends itself to any lawyer with 0-5 years of experience, and that’s why it’s a great book for law students-irrespective of whether you are considering litigation as a career or not. I think it’s one that stimulates a certain kind of thinking in the readers familiar with the law. 

7. Bleak House (this is the best)

Bleak House is an absolute pleasure to read. With Dickens, it is never just about the story, but the nuances of his narrative plays a very important role. Bleak house is a must read for all, and most definitely all law students. And, here’s a good suggestion from a fellow-reader: do some homework on equity before you get to Bleak House, I’m sure the fun will be doubled!

Do you have a personal favourite? Add to the list in the comments! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Through Our Day

Vector created by macrovector
One thing that I have learnt over time is to always have a set of daily things to do. It is a popular thing to say routine is lethal. And, that is true in the sense of missing out or subduing creativity and losing yourself eventually. However, I believe it is highly elevating to have a set of core activities or practices for yourself through the day- and essentially, make it a routine!

Why? Why do I think that keeping a core like that will help?

The activities through your day can be broken up into three broad categories- what you have to do, what you want to do, and what you must do. What you have to do is generally the things you can't avoid like work or study, and what you want to do is probably read, write, watch, or do any activity that is pleasurable to you, and what you must do is the core you keep for yourself. A small note here: there can be overlaps in these three categories.  

For example, we all shampoo our hair 2 or 3 times a week. This is a kind of a rigid routine that we come up with, and any given week in your life, you'd have mostly done this without second thoughts. Why? Because we want our hair to be clean and taken care of, without spending too much of time and thought on it. So, we set a routine. Another example can be working out. You go for a jog three days in a week, and then do yoga the other days. That's a routine. You start falling into that groove, so the matter of health or fitness is automatically taken care of. 

The list of things that you must include in your core activities through your day or week is completely your decision, and your choice. Someone might make studying their lessons an everyday habit because they want their academics to be automatically taken care of when the exams arrive. But some others may not really prefer that and would rather study one day before their exam. However, they might want to make reading newspaper an everyday habit or core activity. Some others might want to tend and spend some time with their plants everyday, it can be anything that you decide. 

Core activities are essentially habits, but these activities are more significant and will help you plan the other activities for the day around it. They typically act like the backbone of your day or week, and brings a sense of structure to it. For example, we all have common core like our meals. The day is literally structured around it, and those who don't follow a timed meal plan do lose out. It is up to you to frame a set of cores for yourself and just stick to it. 

It is also a popular thing to say an idle mind is a devil's workshop. A core will make sure you aren't so idle that the devil wins over you, and it will ensure that a lot of the most basic requirements that you have are taken care of by default. What better can you ask for?

Sensible routine helps a lot, and keeps us engaged! Think about what's your core, and whether you stick to it! Happy day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Longfellow's July From The Poet's Calendar

I had shared a poem by Wadsworth on June last month, and many friends reached out and told me it was a nice post, and they enjoyed it. These poems are from The Poet's Calendar by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Poet's Calendar is a compilation of Longfellow's set of twelve beautiful poems, each song describing and narrating the essence of each of the twelve months of the calendar year. Since many seemed to have enjoyed, I wanted to put up the excerpt of the relevant poems for all the rest of the months this year! So, here you have Longfellow's July:

My emblem is the Lion, and I breathe   
The breath of Libyan deserts o'er the land; 
My sickle as a sabre I unsheathe,   
And bent before me the pale harvests stand. 
The lakes and rivers shrink at my command,   
And there is thirst and fever in the air; 
The sky is changed to brass, the earth to sand;   
I am the Emperor whose name I bear.

July is definitely a month of transition, and not as fair as the lovely June. Yet, every month has it's own beauty. If you want to read all the set of twelve songs, you can read it here: https://bit.ly/2YrS66R

Have a happy July!

Monday, July 13, 2020

5 Authors For Children

Recently, I was figuring out what book to suggest for a small boy who hadn't really read much before, and that definitely sent me smiling into a lot of my own memories. 

So, here are five authors, in the order that I'd suggest, that every child will love. The best thing about the work of these authors are that they are fun, easy to read and comprehend, and come in small sizes. Size is a big factor for those who start reading. A big book can be intimidating, but a smaller, fun one can hook them to reading, and bigger books will become a natural progression. 

1. Enid Blyton. Famous Five and Secret Seven are the best places for anyone to start reading. 

2. Roald Dahl. He is one of the best children's author, and I till today love and enjoy his books. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the place to start, and before you know the kids will start reading his other books by themselves! Another point of interest, for the children, in his books would be the wonderful and fascinating illustrations by Quentin Blake. 

3. Ruskin Bond. If you want simple stories with an Indian touch, Ruskin Bond is the best one to go to. The stories usually involve young boys and adventure, and is sure to capture the attention of the young readers. 

4. C. S. Lewis. When the kid is comfortable with Blyton and Dahl, and is looking for more, go to the world of Narnia by Lewis. This is the time when they will start looking forward to the next book when they get involved with a series. Chronicles of Narnia is a classic that every child will love.

5. J. K. Rowling: It's not for nothing that Harry Potter commands such a fan base. The world of Hogwarts is one of the best that a child can get while growing up. It pushes the imagination, and the kid starts reading 700 pages of books like it's nothing! I grew up with Harry Potter, and I think every child will love that world!

So, if you have cousins, sisters, children around you in this stage, do gift them books by these authors (and gauge their comfort level in reading before you choose from the above five)! Wishing them a happy read!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

How Do You Pass Time On A Flight?

A flight usually gets you to your destination the fastest, and yet the journey of even two hours can be unimaginably boring if you don't have an activity figured out that can pass the time. Being on the internet isn't a choice, even if you want to, so that's ruled out. 

I find a lot of people who download movies to watch on the flight. I think this is a great option as long as you don't get headaches or anything like that. An interesting movie or a show will definitely make the two hours of travel a breeze. But, I don't prefer watching or listening to anything through the flight, as I find that often people sitting next to me peep into the screen if I watch anything at all. So, unfortunately, I don't feel comfortable watching anything. Some people, especially families with young children, spend the whole time during the flight, clicking selfies from all different angles. Dodging the coverage of their cameras deserves a separate post in itself!

I have two favourite activities to pass time on a flight. 

1. Sleep. This is the absolute best. You fall asleep, and you seem to reach the destination before even you realize! Also, sleeping on the flight is very productive. You feel refreshed and ready to go about doing whatever plan you have for the day by the time you reach your destination. I always sleep on a flight, and have always found it to the best pastime. 

2. Read. Sometimes you are already fresh, so sleep is not the first thing you go to. The alternative for me is reading. I pick a safe entertainer for flights that is bound to be gripping, engaging, and will keep my mind absorbed in the story. Then again, the time flies. I also pick books of the size that will get done within the two hours. So, all my reading of useless-yet-entertaining fiction usually happens over a flight, and there is no guilt because what else could I have done! Funnily, people never seem to peep into books. The maximum they do is check out what book it is, so I am usually left to myself when I have a book in my hand!

I would have liked to write on flight, and I have once before, but I didn't prefer it when I found, once again, that people keep peeping into your screen. When we travel here in economy class, we can't really expect anything more, so I am content with either sleeping or reading, while others are busy on their phones. 

How do you pass time on a flight? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Veerappan: Chasing The Brigand

Title: Veerappan: Chasing The Brigand
Author: K. Vijay Kumar

Veerappan is a name too well known to all of us. Being a nomadic brigand who used the Sathyamangalam forests as his turf, Veerappan rose to infamous heights as a Sandalwood smuggler and brigand that every household in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu knew about and feared. The brigand was finally done away with in the successful Operation Cocoon of 2004 led by K. Vijay Kumar, IPS and chief of the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force(STF) that was involved for years in tracking and capturing Veerappan. This book is a narration of the true accounts, to the best of his knowledge, that led to the final Operation Cocoon where they managed to trap the infamous bandit. 

Vijay Kumar says in the book: "I wanted this book to read like a thriller." And, it was exactly that. Chasing The Brigand narrates the story in a manner so gripping that it is impossible to keep the book down until you get to the end. The incidents that the officers of law, including policemen and forest officials, who were part of the teams that worked for years together attempting to capture and make Veerappan surrender are so enigmatic, dramatic, and command bravery beyond our imagination, that the lines of what we'd think as exaggeration start blurring. The whole book and the events described in the book make you feel like you are watching it all through your own eyes. 

The twenty year long fight with Veerappan has been captured in a compulsively absorbing narrative, starting from when the fight began significantly to how K. Vijay Kumar, the author, got involved with the STF to details of all the major attempts to nab the infamous brigand to finally nabbing him in 2004 through Operation Cocoon. Each and every person mentioned in the book aroused a whole another level of respect, awe, and admiration- including the author himself, DGP Walter Devaram, ADG Kumarasamy, Shankar Bidari, DIG Radhakrishnan, Sanjay Arora, Ashok Kumar, Hussain, Rajarajan, Kannan, Shrinivas, Gopal Hosur, Nataraj, and many many more from both the teams in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 

Through the incidents, there is a revelation of Veerappan, his family, and his gang members, through the encounters that these officials had with them. While reading, I got a rising feeling of how some of Veerappan's actions were similar to the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, and I just had to read a couple of more pages after this thought, when I came across the author drawing a similarity too. Here's the excerpt talking about the conditions that Veerappan put if he were to surrender:
"One of them was that Veerappan be kept in a special camp in Tamil Nadu, where he would receive visitors freely. It reminded me of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who had got a jail built to his specifications, comprising a soccer field, a bar, a Jacuzzi, his own guards and women of his choice. But Jayalalithaa, then the Leader of the Opposition, blasted Veerappan’s request."
Veerappan also tried to imitate Che Guevara, wearing a beret like him and clad in his standard green outfit. One remarkable thing about him was that he managed to be highly aware of politics, not just of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, but also all of India and even the world, sitting in a secluded, uninhabited terrain of the dense Sandalwood forests. He had the support of the villages that he frequented through a constant build up of fear, and any attempt by the police to get to him, however secretive it was maintained, managed to get to him as a tip-off. 

The read was absolutely thrilling, and I loved it. It brings immense respect to all the officers and the teams of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, whose bravery is unparalleled, and a reverence to the many who lost their lives trying to nab him. I loved every chapter, every incident of the book, and the story carried me along with unwavering attention. Every time an officer went in, I found myself hoping they'd nab him. The story has a very fluid narrative, building a whole big picture of 20 long years of struggle through the dots of small, significant incidents which fueled strategies and learning. 

Once I began reading, my hands flipped the pages involuntarily and my mind ran along with the story. It's racy, gripping, absorbing, fascinating, scintillating, and it chills you to the bones when you realize it's a true story! I have made sure I don't talk one word about any incident from the story itself, because I strongly feel that the beauty of the read was in the build up that the book achieves. And, that is something that I would hate to spoil for you. I spotted this book yesterday night, started reading out of curiosity, and couldn't put it down till I finished it. The book is a must-read!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Murder In Beltour | Chapter 10 | Who Killed Ruchi?

Sunanda waited in her office for Saira and Diya. She had called for them one day before when she had to report to the University on the findings. As she sat there, she had a slight smirk on her face that refused to be wiped out.

A knock at the door brought her back to reality from the meandering thoughts. Raghav let in the two girls. Sunanda briefly thanked Raghav, as she always did, and the door closed leaving the three of them to themselves.

“Hi,” said Sunanda, breaking the silence and smiling. This was a different smile although. A smile that wasn’t restricted to its tight professionalism.

“Do you have something you want to ask us? We already told you everything we know,” said Diya. Sunanda continued smiling.

“Please make yourselves comfortable. I am here to tell you something, not ask you,” said Sunanda, and let out a long breath. The two girls sat down, confused and doubtful. “Hear it like a story, like a puzzle that gets solved and sorted.”

She gave a pause for a moment, and then she started.

“A fire breaks out in your hostel and a girl dies. The girl is Ruchi. Your college authorities approach me to take up the case. The next day Dev, a shattered employee of the Boss who had been quit the previous day, arrives and tells me about an attack planned on The Period, a magazine that had plans to release footage that would put the Boss in trouble. Dev claims that he didn’t know about the fire and that Ruchi had died. He claims that he didn’t know that I worked for the Boss, and he also claims that he didn’t know I was taking up the fire case. And, according to Dev, Ruchi was supposed to carry out the attack on The Period. How did they both come to me? Was it a coincidence?

Now, on the day of the fire, Ruchi was supposed to get a note that had to be delivered by Dev. But, at the last moment Dev quit and Yash was sent instead. The package went to the warden who gave it to you. And, you never gave it. So, Ruchi must not have gone out in the morning. And, in the afternoon, someone set fire ablaze and it killed her. It couldn’t have been someone from outside the University. That doesn’t seem possible considering the evidence through the surveillance cameras. So, it had to be someone from the University. Who could have started the fire?

The fire seemed like it began from the window corner, yet that’s a mislead to shift the attention to an entry from the window. But the tool mark visible on the bottom of Ruchi’s door points to an entry from the main door to Ruchi’s room. While the person trying to break in had tried to use a ledge and break the room, the break had been unsuccessful. Instead, the newspaper trails indicate the drag mark on the arch of how the door had been opened. Ruchi must have heard the noise and opened the door when the attacker was trying for a break entry. Who did Ruchi see?”

Sunanda gave a pause again, and looked at the girls. Saira and Diya were sitting up straight and staring at her, their mouths partially open in anticipation. Sunanda gave a quick laugh and started again.

“Your dean has close connections with The Period, a friendship with the editor in chief of the magazine. Dev was fired suddenly, and the next thing he does is come straight here to report like a good man. Isn’t that strange? Dev was jobless, homeless and penniless. When a man is put in such a situation, he doesn’t become good all of a sudden- he becomes desperate. Desperate for money, to sustain, to live. He wouldn’t have the guts to come and report. No one would, and that’s natural. Yet he did. Why? Because, The Period paid him to report to me. But, why? How does The Period gain from that?

Dev came and tried to convince me that killing Ruchi was the Boss’s job. But, he was paid by The Period to say so. Did someone from The Period kill Ruchi? The Period also pushed your Dean to ask me to take up a case. So, it wasn’t a coincidence. But, why me? I worked for the Boss, too. And, I stopped. And, The Period must have thought that I would be the ideal person to accept Dev’s story in my past anger and write off the case on the Boss. That was their best shot. And, if I did, then the next trouble onslaught would be between the Boss and me, and The Period wouldn’t have their name involved. Very calculated.

But, who inside the University worked with The Period? It wasn’t the Dean who set the fire. It was the girls’ hostel and no man has been seen to enter the hostel in the surveillance footage. So, it must have been someone from the University and the girls’ hostel.”

Sunanda paused again, and then looked at Saira. The girls were still sitting in anticipation and bated breaths.

“Why did the warden give you the message instead of giving it to Ruchi herself? To avoid any suspicion. The message to Ruchi was not really from the Boss. It was a fake one that The Period created to get Ruchi out in the morning, and to finish her off. But, that didn’t happen to their disappointment, thanks to you Saira. The message never reached Ruchi and she never came out. So, the warden had to execute Plan B. A fire, in her room, that killed her. The tool marks match with the ledge that is there in the warden’s room.

But, if The Period wanted to kill Ruchi, and the Dean was their friend, why didn’t they close it as an accident? Because they wanted the blame to go to the Boss. That would only reinforce what they were planning to release about him through the footage. So, now you can see who killed Ruchi. But the case is not here today to find who killed Ruchi, but to frame who they wanted to be the killer of Ruchi.

The whole stunt is choreographed. Everybody is a player- your Dean, Dev, The Period, everybody.”

There was a minute of absolute silence. Then Saira spoke.

“Why were you keen on knowing if my room was open?” she asked.

Sunanda seemed a little taken aback, but she managed to give a smug smile before she answered. “I saw the same tool mark in your room. The warden had entered your room to check where the package was before she proceeded to Ruchi’s room,” she said briefly.

“So, why did you tell us all this?” asked Diya.

“Well, I wanted to tell the people who knew a little background but aren’t involved too,” said Sunanda, her composure coming back to a normal. “And, I am going to the police with the truth, I’d be glad if you two can stand testament to what I told you.”

Saira and Diya nodded gravely. Sunanda gave them the air of importance that would convince them to agree. After a couple of more exchanges, the girls took their leave.

There had been a play of power, a choreographed stunt by The Period. Yet, the one thing they miscalculated was that Sunanda had been fired by the Boss. Sunanda had worked for the Boss and been way high up in the ladder. For reasons unknown, she quit and was yet left alive for so many years by the Boss though she knew too many things about his deeds. They didn’t bother to find out why, in their excitement to frame him and add to their success. And, she did solve the case. She didn't lie. She just hid a small part of the truth that changed the game. Sunanda ensured that the girls had left before she placed a call on her phone.

“Boss, it’s done. The warden will be transferred to the base tonight. All the arrangements have been made. With the warden considered to have fled, The Period will be successfully framed, and no way they can run it. You’re safe.”

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Murder In Beltour | Chapter 09 | Dev’s Story

Dev had joined on the low-rung of an inconceivably complicated interconnected network of thugs, the head of which was someone called the ‘Boss’. Dev was not someone you could call a good man, but with a slight push he was capable of being one. And, the ‘Boss’ had given him several top-down orders to be executed. Sometimes, they were petty thefts of things that seemed insignificant to Dev. And at other times, it was either a job to threaten someone or finish them off. 

Dev wasn’t someone you could call a good person, yet he wasn’t so devoid of emotion to be capable of shooting someone dead. Or, stabbing them, or any other physical violent means of bringing death. So, he had never been assigned anything more than poisoning someone once. And, with this weakness came Dev’s downside- he never really progressed up the ladder like the others did. Like Yash did. As always, Dev got the job of delivering a message to Ruchi one day, as he was always the one to do such trivial jobs. But, the job was taken back from him, and Yash was sent instead. And, then he was made to quit, and was sent to the streets. 

The Boss had made one mistake- of thinking Dev was as much a fool in his head as he was physically. Dev was sharp in his senses, his eyes and ears always noticing and hearing things. And, by the time he was thrown out, Dev knew quite a bit about the plans that were being whispered through the hierarchy ladders. There was going to be an attack on the owner of The Period.

He had rushed to a detective so that he could find more, and make sure it didn't happen. That’s when he had met Sunanda, another woman who had worked for the Boss but had been way high up in the ladder. For reasons unknown to him, and he didn’t dare ask her, she was left alive by the Boss though she knew too many things about his deeds. He had narrated everything he knew about the plan to her. 

As rumoured in the rung of the ladders, The Period had a set of sixty tapes with the whole history of the Boss since twenty years ago, when he was in his formative years to rising a terror ladder. Who was the Boss exactly? And, what did he terrorize? Dev did not really know exactly, and to Dev’s best knowledge, nobody seemed to know when he had worked with them. The Period, over the years, had grown so big that threats weren’t really effective with them. The Boss wanted the editor-in-chief done away with, to induce terror, stall the project and destroy the content they had. And, it had been rumoured that Ruchi, a very trusted aide of the Boss, was supposed to do the job. 

But, by the time that Dev had gone to tell all the little conversations that he had heard, Ruchi had already died in a fire. When he had reached out to Sunanda to save the editor-in-chief, she had already been involved in the fire case in which Ruchi died. How did both the cases come to her? Was it mere coincidence?

Sunanda sat in her office, her notebook in front of her, and her thoughts turning over what all the case had thrown at her. Sunanda had seen the paper trails and the tool marks at the bottom of Ruchi’s door. And, Saira had kept her door unlocked for two minutes. Somehow, all of them were involved: the Boss, The Period, Ruchi, Yash, Dev, and yet, something was still missing for her. Who did Ruchi have to meet the morning she died?

Sleep took over Sunanda as she worked it out all on her mind- over and over- was it the Boss? Or, was it The Period? She fell asleep on the table, her notebook still open and a pencil still clutched in her fingers.

*

Read Chapter 10!